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February 24, 2017

PHII welcomes Business Analyst Greco Johnson

As PHII’s international projects continue to expand, PHII is pleased to welcome Greco Johnson to the Requirements Lab. As a Business Analyst, Greco will provide analysis support to key PHII projects. Already Greco has hit the ground running, beginning work to help Puerto Rico strengthen its response to Zika outbreaks through more efficient information systems.

Greco has harbored an interest in computers since high school. In his computer class, he came face-to-face with a computer for the first time (the famously bulky Commadore-64) and was dazzled by the digital world that it opened up for him.

After this experience, a career in IT was the natural choice. Greco studied IT in college, and then jumped into a decade-long IT career in telecommunications.

“I found out what the world of public health was, and was totally awed by it.”

- Greco Johnson

His first foray into public health happened by pure chance. He came across a newly opened business analysis role with a CDC contractor, and, ready to move on from telecommunications, he applied. In this role, Greco found himself working with communities of ALS patients on a registry that would empower symptom tracking and research into the causes of ALS, a devastating neurodegenerative disease. Working so closely with the ALS community was a transformative experience for Greco. Many of the patients he worked with suffered severe side effects, including the loss of motor skills, and they were rapidly approaching their end-of-life prognoses. Still, they unfailingly lent their time and energy to this disease research to help future ALS patients—research that would most likely come too late for them.

 “They were amazing people,” says Greco. “They didn’t think about themselves. They cared about the people who would come after.”

This project opened Greco’s eyes to the progress achievable when a project’s scope is widened beyond a single patient to a whole population. Prior to having any exposure to the field of public health, Greco had always assumed health care and public health meant more or less the same thing, but this experience changed his perception. “I found out what the world of public health was, and was totally awed by it,” he says.

“There’s a pathway to make more of an impact in public health as opposed to clinical.”

- Greco Johnson

Greco’s next position took him to Emory University’s School of Medicine, to the world of health care. Having the opportunity to compare health care and public health cemented Greco’s impression that he could do more good in the world of public health. “There’s a pathway to make more of an impact in public health as opposed to clinical,” says Greco. “We actually develop solutions to help public health agencies do their jobs better to serve the communities they’re in.”

The pathway back to public health came in the form of Patrick Caneer, Greco’s coworker at Emory (and now once more his coworker at PHII). Patrick, an MPH student specializing in informatics, told Greco about Emory’s informatics program, and then, after Patrick began working at PHII, he also introduced Greco to Jimica Tchamako. These connections changed the course of Greco’s career; within a year, Greco was also enrolled in the informatics program and pursuing his current role at PHII.

Between graduate studies and work, Greco doesn’t have much time these days for his favorite hobby, golf, but Greco will always find ways to make quality time for his wife and 13-year-old son. His son is a science enthusiast and loves tinkering just as much as Greco did at his age—but his robotics club provides him with somewhat more advanced tools than the Commadore-64 of Greco’s youth.

Piper Hale, MPH

Assistant Director of Communications